Connections (ITV, 1985-1990)
After the success of Blockbusters, a similar game show was launched by Granada which featured sixth-formers having to solve puzzles, and it was originally hosted by Sue Robbie. Two teenage contestants and their great hairstyles took part. I also have to reference the set design, with its flashing pink and blue neon lights which were very common on mid-80s TV shows, making it look like the earliest series were taking part in the Top Of The Pops studio.
The first part of the game was Connect The Clue. Contestants would answer a general knowledge question, and then one of the nine pictures on a 3×3 grid would be revealed, and what it featured would also be announced by the lovely voice of Charles Foster, who was also a continuity announcer with Granada at the time. If the contestant could make the connection between all the clues they would score a bonus so you better get thinking. However, like with Catchphrase, the bonus points on offer decreased every time the connection wasn’t guessed. This would be done three times with an increasing points value in every round. The defeated contestant would take away a consolation prize of a camera.
The highest-scoring contestant went through to the Link The Letters round. They would be asked eight questions, this time with 50 seconds on the clock, and for each one they got right, the first letter of that answer would appear on the board. With their remaining time, they would have one chance to identify the eight-letter word created, only this was made more difficult because they didn’t know where the word would start or end, and if they didn’t get every answer right it would be even more tough to work it out.
The contestant would then face a new opponent for the chance to go through to the Link The Letters round again, which they could play a maximum of four times, with better prizes on offer for every time they completed the puzzle, like with the Gold Runs on Blockbusters, and their points total would be converted into money for charity. Also like Blockbusters, uncompleted games would resume in the next show. This was all rather enjoyable, but as far as I know, Connections hasn’t been repeated since it left the screen on ITV. (hint to Challenge)
There were three eras of Connections. The second began in 1988 when the show moved to primetime, with new host Richard Madeley. He was be assisted by Marian Chanter, who had just made the news for becoming the first female champion of The Krypton Factor, and we’re sure that she would be pleased that she didn’t have to fall into a pool of smelly water for this show. In the third era the show in 1989 went back to its daytime slot and was hosted by Simon Potter, formerly of CBBC. This time three adult contestants took part and played for money, although looking back I would have to say that my favourite era of the show was the first.